Did you have a favorite lunch box growing up?  I remember going to Nickel’s, the local five and dime store, and picking my new one out each year.  I had Barbie, The Peanuts Gang, The Brady Bunch, and even some mod-colored ones, but my all-time favorite was The Partridge Family. The groovy family of six was dressed in their purple velour pantsuits and dresses on one side, and the eye-catching multi-colored bus was on the other.

Every year, my children love to pick out a brand new lunch box.  Even though I buy reusable ones, I am a firm believer that a new school year deserves a brand new lunchbox.  The old ones are saved for trips in the park or long car rides when they can pull out a drink or a snack when they get hungry. 

As my children grow older, I know that this seasonal right of passage will soon come to an end. I am enjoying it while I can!

This new Disney Moana lunch box is a hit!

Packing a Lunch Versus Buying a Lunch-Which is Better?

My kids think that I am a “mean mom”`, but I do not allow them to buy school lunches.  My older daughter was permitted to buy once or twice a month when chicken nuggets and tater tots were being served, but that was it. I was working full-time, the cost was nominal, and she was only one child.

Presently, school lunches cost about $3.25.  Multiply that amount times two children several times a month and it can get costly.  I can make a lunch for much less than that!  That is one reason why packing is better than buying. I do give them 50 cents a week to buy a soft pretzel every Friday so they can have something to look forward to at the end of the week. 

Another reason I pack my children’s lunch each day is that I know exactly what I am having them put inside their stomachs.  I buy organic chicken nuggets and place them in a thermos that they have used for years.  The pasta I cook is the high protein kind and the sauce is all natural. Even the peanut butter and jelly I use to make their sandwiches is all natural.    

I bake twice a week and their sweet treat is not filled with preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.  Extras are included so they can share with their friends.

The Ultimate Brown Bag

Green Direct GDLB-100 Perfect Brown Durable Paper Lunch Bag for All Ages (Pack of 100)
Amazon Price: $9.54 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 10, 2016)
In my day, once we entered Junior High School, brown bags replaced lunchboxes. Since today's children are brought up on the "reduce, recycle, reuse" mantra, it seems wasteful to bring a throwaway bag to school. This brown bag replicates what we all brought to school. Fully insulated, you won't have to worry about your tuna sandwich leaking all over your books while sitting in your backpack or locker.

Furthermore, I do not trust what is put into school food, no matter how nutritionally balanced it is claimed to be.

And now that lunches are “healthier”, the kids do not eat them.  My children tell me daily stories of food wasted and thrown away, or they tell me their friends give others the things they won’t eat.  In fact, on Parent Visitation lunch day, it pained me to watch child after child toss out fresh fruit and vegetables or an uneaten sandwich of the day.

By packing my children’s lunch, I know what I put inside is something they will eat. Leftovers must be brought home, that is the rule.  I can see what they are or are not eating.

Making lunch is not a big deal, in my opinion. It saves me money and ensures that my kids are eating something nutritious and what they like.

Bento Boxes Are a Hit

Lunch Bento Box Container, Iwotou Microwave and Dishwasher Safe Lunch Box with 5+1 Separated Containers (Pink)
Amazon Price: $12.98 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 10, 2016)
In the preschool where I teach, I have seen one family bring this box to lunch and I have to say, I am impressed! While the initial cost may seem steep, it pays for itself with other savings. Instead of buying the more costly individually wrapped packages of snacks and food, you can buy the larger size, which is almost always more cost efficient.

For example, you can pack a wet item, like yogurt, in it. Buying the larger 32 ounce container is more economical than buying the toddler sized four packs sold in stores.

The compartments do not leak. Just put in the items, close the box, and go!

Character Lunch Boxes

Always a crowd pleaser!

Just as I have fond memories of my lunch boxes, I am sure that my children and other of this generation will enjoy owning one with one of today's popular characters on them.

For example, the characters from Disney's Zootopia are featured on both soft sided and metal lunch boxes. This lunch tote features Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, the two lead characters, as well as two others from the film. It has a sturdy handle and two zippered compartments-one at the bottom and one larger one that can hold lunch.

Many preschoolers go to "lunch bunch" groups or stay an extended time so parents can work more hours. While most day care centers provide lunch, private preschools do not. Children in this age group feel more like a big boy and big girl when they own their own character lunch box. Nickelodeon has their Nick Junior preschool programs on, and one of the most popular shows on that network is Paw Patrol.

This lunch box features Skye and Everest, the two female pups in the community of helpers. There are two zippers so it can open on both sides, and it comes in the girly favorite colors of pink and purple. It can fit a thermos, snacks, and a sandwich.

One of the biggest decisions your child will make before the school year begins is which lunch box to pick out. With so many choices, this will be a tough one!